“And your name is medicine over my skin. And our kinship is the kind of salve that heals whole oceans.” -Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals
Today my friend Leo and I met in Carle Park. Breezes and blue flowers. Bright sky and warm shadows. We’re both creative writers, and since we’ve taken creative writing courses in higher ed, we’re used to a kind of feedback where I print pages, perhaps one copy for the professor, perhaps sixteen for all the other students, and then a week later I get back pages with little ink notes about what I’ve written. Today, instead, Leo and I sat in the dirt and the grass and read work out loud.
I like written feedback. I’ve learned so much from friends and mentors who’ve written words around my words. But as the breeze made branches sway and flowers bounce, I liked reading aloud together even more. Reading is an invitation to be “here” together. Seeing—the visual act of reading and being read, of presenting and being interpreted—feels interwoven for me with all kinds of power narratives. We choose where to look and when to close our eyes. Voices wrap around me in a more sensual way, like spring breezes, a touch-way like shadows and sun. Reading Leo’s writing out loud— or hearing Leo read mine—is a chance to live inside that moment of sharing. Instead of commenting, responding, we root into sound, finding ourselves and each other in the soil of our voices.